Tag Archives: innerbeauty

Choose Happy

13 Jan

cow

Over the Christmas break I was having a very funny conversation with my parents about someone who is particularly difficult to deal with – historically and present day.  I said to my Dad ‘how can that person not recognize how off-putting and polarizing their behavior is?’  Dad said ‘I think a lot of it is genetic and it isn’t going to change in this instance.’  He said ‘just like intelligence, some people are smart and some people are negative.’  I’ve always been adverse to such ways, but with age I have become even more turned off by it.  As in, I literally find myself tuning out of conversations where the outlook is negative or critical of others.  As I get ready for my day I listen to podcasts.  I start off my day  listening to inspiring talks with inspiring people.  Today it was Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations and she was talking to Gretchen Rubin who wrote The Happiness Project.   It was 32 minutes of I TOTALLY AGREE WITH THAT content.  She stated that happiness is actually 50% genetic, so it seems that my Pa was correct!  It got me thinking about happiness and how it is such a prevalent topic.  How do you find it?  How do you stay happy?  Why are some people more happy than others even though they have less or have more challenges?  Why are some people never happy?

I’ve always been a naturally ‘happy’ person.  I generally see the positive side of things and I always remain optimistic.  I guess we can say that is 50% because of my genetics, but what about the other 50%?   Or let’s say 40% because no one is 100% happy or positive (and anyone who acts like every single thing is amazing is covering something up).   Believe me, there are times when I feel like giving the finger, I’ve done my fair share of gossiping (and complaining) and I’ve been in a relationship that definitely brought me down.  And I am now 37 and single – not what I envisioned when I was younger.  Some days the inner cynic in me comes out, but I genuinely try to kick those shitty thoughts to the curb.

To exemplify what I am talking about, I will give you a little window into my world.  When I wake up in the morning I send a few girlfriends (who need a little pump up) positive thoughts, videos or quotes for the day.  It is therapeutic for me too.  Millie (my dog) and I head out for the day – I never used to listen to music when I walk, but now I do.  As I trot along I often find myself singing out loud to the songs I am listening to.  The music puts a little more bounce in my step and it has been a great addition to my morning.   We walk to my brothers house where we scoop their Golden Retriever (who is always pumped to see us).  Along the way to the office we talk to many people who love dogs.  In particular, there is a guy who asks for money on Spring Garden Road and we walk by him most days.  The dogs LOVE him, and so most mornings we stop to chat with him.  The dogs lean into him, lick him and just give him a big dose of love.  Earlier this week he told me that he watches for us every morning and that seeing the dogs is the best part of his day.   (Heart warmer!!)   I am sure he is invisible to most people, but the dogs treat him like he is the best thing since sliced bread.  After that we make our way my way to the office to start the day.    This past Wednesday it was super icy.  Black ice everywhere along the way.   When I got to my office I changed from my sensible winter walking shoes to my ‘not so sensible for the winter booties’ (they are leopard so that should indicate their level of their uselessness in winter).  Shortly after arriving I had to pop out for a meeting which was only a block from my office.  Forgetting about the black ice I stepped off my office steps with great vigor (at the same time two guys were walking by).  My front foot hit the ice and slid forward while my back foot was still on the step.  I literally did a full Nadia Comeneci style splits.  I popped back up (in my dress) in record time to the boys saying “Oh wow, ahhhhh, are you okay?” to which I said “Oh yes, I am fine!’  I took one step forward and BAM I went down again.  This time a face plant type of fall.  I again popped right back up and one guy said to the other ‘Take her hand man’.  I said laughing ‘No, no, I got it.  I am going to walk gingerly now.  I didn’t even rip my tights and I gave you guys your story for the day!’  We all had a solid laugh and I made my way to my meeting.  My hands were burning from hitting the pavement and my legs were wet.  The meeting was with a mom who recently lost her 43 year old daughter to ovarian cancer over Christmas.  Talk about a way to snap back out of your own shit and be grateful for everything you have.

What I am getting at – the other 40% is within you.   It is how you choose to use your time, control your thoughts, perceptions and reactions to life.   I dated someone who made lots of money and he was one of the most negative creatures I’ve ever met.  Happiness doesn’t come from money.  I’ve met people who are married and they complain endlessly about their partner.  Happiness doesn’t come from having a partner (or how they behave).  I’ve met people who have great jobs, but they are miserable.  Happiness doesn’t come from your job.  I know people who are beautiful and thin, but they are insecure and self critical.  Happiness doesn’t come from being beautiful or skinny.  I’ve met people who have all of the nicest things (big house, cars, clothes, travel) their heart could desire, but they aren’t happy.  Happiness doesn’t come from things.

As my very wise brother told me once upon a time – life is mostly made up of choices.  Most of the parts of your life are choices you made:  the big house (that you might have to work your ass off to pay for), the job (that you are spending too much time at to pay for the house), the partner, the kids, the commitments and the list goes on. Now don’t get me wrong folks – there is nothing wrong with a nice house, a busy job, wanting to climb the ladder or having nice things.   I am talking about your attitude towards it.  How do you treat other people, do you complain, do you feel stressed, do you feel joy?   Life is going to throw curveballs at us – lots of shitty things happen that we can’t control.  If you’re already off balance when those things happen it is going to be a real challenge.  One of my dearest friends lost her Dad unexpectedly on Christmas Day.  The support she has received from others is amazing because she is awesome and always goes out of her way to help others.  You get out what you put in.

Everyone’s idea of what makes you happy is different.  I dare you to do a few things that make you feel happy – it will make your day better and anyone who you come in contact with too.  As one of my favorite quotes states: Awesome things will happen today if you choose not to be a miserable cow.

 

 

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Authenticity: the courage to be yourself

21 Oct

self-pic

Earlier this week I attended a women’s empowerment/networking event and directly after that I scooted over to a fundraiser where a famous Canadian cook book author was speaking.  I didn’t think the two events would collide topic wise but they did.  The author didn’t speak about creating recipes or testing them – she focussed on talking about loving yourself, believing in yourself, following your instincts and having a sense of humor along the way.  She continued to talk about the psychology of getting skinny/being skinny – it is a whole lot harder to do when you have negative thoughts in your head about yourself and you’re hanging onto things that happened to you in the past.

I was born with a very large mole on the side of my face.  Not just a flat one, but a raised one with hair and a nice brown ring around it which made it even bigger.  Awesome, just what you want on your cheek.   I had a very special grandfather – he was a big gentle giant type and even though he passed away suddenly when I was 7,  I can still clearly remember him.  He would tell me that my mole was my beauty mark and it made me different from others.  I believed him.  I also have 3 older brothers who loved to, ummm, what words should I use, mentally torture me when we were kids.  After Grandpa passed away I only recall hearing them say I had shit on the side of my face and a rat was going to come gnaw it off when I was sleeping.  Kids would point in the grocery store and ask their parents ‘What is on her face?’  The parents would say ‘shhhh’ and awkwardly steer their finger pointing kid away.  I ended up having the mole taken off when I was 13 as it presented quite a risk for skin cancer  (and I hated it).  As much as I hated that mole it helped me develop a thick skin at a young age and also feel empathy towards others who looked a little different.   I hit puberty pretty early and when it hit I got big boobs and some blubber overnight.  That blubber has not been easy to lose.  I love food – I get great JOY from a delicious meal shared with others.  My metabolism isn’t the same as some of my girlfriends who can seemingly eat whatever they want, not exercise a whole lot and still be a size 4.  A few years ago when I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro I lost 5 pounds.  Yup.  Everyone else was like ‘oh my god I can barely keep my pants up with the training and then 6 days on the mountain’.  I’ve learned to stop comparing myself to others who are not like me.  I walk at least 8 km a day: if I wanted to be a size 4 and not an 8,  I would have to run 20 km a day, only eat air or maybe get a tape worm.  But then I wouldn’t have big boobs and would probably wish I had bigger ones as it seems girls who are flat want some.  So you know what, I still have a scar on my face from that mole,  I have big boobs and a bit of a muffin top, but I try to love what I got and work with it.  There are so many other more important things to think about.  And honestly, I always find girls who are overly concerned with what they eat and what they look like… boring and not all that much fun anyway.

I also have a very loud voice.  My parents, in fact, thought I was deaf when I was kid and took me to get my hearing tested.  Nope, I clearly heard all of the buzzes and beeps that the audiologist tested me with.  My hearing is fine.  My voice is just loud or as teachers would put it nicely ‘it projects well’.  In grade 3 we had an old Battle-axe substitute teacher for a few weeks as Mrs MacDoanld (our oh so lovely teacher) had a pneumonia.  This was just before our Christmas concert which was such an enormously exciting night for someone like me – getting up on a stage was my jam.  We had to rehearse our songs with the mentioned Battle-axe.  So we got into our spots and started to sing.  She stopped everyone and pulled me out.  She had my class continue to sing without me.  At the end she said something like ‘that is how the songs are supposed to sound.  You are too loud and you’re ruining it’.  Just as I can recall my Grandpa making me feel so special – I can also recall clearly how small and completely embarrassed she made me feel.  But ya’ want to know what… I shook it off because even at that young age I recognized that her opinion was not one I respected and my Mom/Dad would have told me to just go and be yourself – she doesn’t matter.   I went to that Christmas concert in a dress that I loved (I’ve always had a love for fashion) and I sang my bloody heart out.

I’ve always loved to talk. I have a fascination with other people and love learning new things.  As a kid I was told to be quiet.  A lot.  You know that old rule about children should be seen and not heard.  That rule stinks. I used to love going visiting with my Mom as I got to hear and participate in adult conversations.  In fact, I did a speech for 4-H when I was maybe 12 called Born to Talk and that speech won me a provincial championship.   It seems my loud voice (which projects well) is great for public speaking and my love of talking is too.  Yeah baby!   When I feel my most authentic self it is when I am connecting with others and having great conversation.  I am not quiet and being quiet doesn’t bring me contentment.

I really enjoy Elizabeth Gilbert.  Not the Eat, Prey, Love stuff (I didn’t even get through the eating end of things), but some of her guest articles and blog entries really get me jazzed.  One in particular had me nodding while I was reading it.  Life isn’t about what happens to you. Life is about how you perceive and react to what happens to you.  A lot of the things which I was criticized for as a kid are my greatest assets as an adult.  I generally care little about what others think about me – after all what you think of yourself is far more important than what others think about you.   I choose to spend time with people who like to build others up (that includes my brothers – they don’t mentally torture me anymore) and not the types who tell people what they ‘should be like’.  Unsolicited advice from people who are not inspiring is never beneficial.   Yesterday the CEO of the organization I work for (who is someone I greatly admire for always being true to who she is) posted a great quote and it reminded me of a quote I love by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“She was beautiful, but not like those girls in the magazines. She was beautiful, for the way she thought. She was beautiful, for the sparkle in her eyes when she talked about something she loved. She was beautiful, for her ability to make other people smile, even if she was sad. No, she wasn’t beautiful for something as temporary as her looks. She was beautiful, deep down to her soul. She is beautiful.”

So ladies and gentlemen (that’s right this isn’t just for women).   The last page of O Magazine is always a column by Oprah called What I Know For Sure.  I will close this in Oprah Style.  What I know for sure is: that we all have insecurities, we all have body bits which we don’t love and we’ve all had cruddy things happen to us.  But we all have amazing and unique bits about us, we all have totally gorgeous parts of us and we’ve all had wonderful things happen to us.  The more you focus on your talents, what you like about yourself and the positive things in your life – the more confident you will feel, the sexier you will look and I can guarantee amazing things will continue to happen to you.  As I was told so many times before- just be yourself. If you have kids hammer that into their heads.  Your life is your story.  Make it one others want to read.